First aid mum saves her son

Claire Gacoyne with sons Thomas (right) and Alex
Claire Gacoyne with sons Thomas (right) and Alex
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A quick-thinking mum saved her son’s life when he began choking on a crisp - thanks to a first aid course she took just the day before.

Claire Gascoyne sprang into action as three-year-old Thomas struggled to breathe because the Dorito snack was lodged in his throat.

She calmly cleared the obstruction by placing the terrified tot over her knee and delivering two back blows, the second of which saw the crisp fly out.

Now the mum-of-two is backing a campaign encouraging parents to learn first aid as new statistics reveal over 50 per cent of parents in Sheffield lack life-saving skills.

Claire, aged 39, told The Star: “Thomas was scared because he couldn’t breathe and didn’t know what to do.

“My husband Mark was sat with him when he started choking and he was panicking, so I ran in.

“Luckily I’d done the training course just the day before and we had covered choking so I exactly what to do.

“Mark was saying ‘get him some water’ but I said ‘no’, I was quite calm, I just popped him on my knee and gave him two back taps and it came out.

“I am so glad that I had done the first aid course and that I knew what to do – without it the situation could have ended very differently.”

Claire had completed a first aid course with St John Ambulance in Chesterfield the day before Thomas, now aged five, began to choke as she was planning to become a childminder.

She is now urging other parents to equip themselves with some first aid skills in the hope that they will know how to react in an emergency.

Claire, of Eckington Road in Coal Aston, near Sheffield, added: “I definitely recommend going on a first aid course because it just gives you the basics.

“You don’t realise that your child could die because you don’t know what to do, so it is really important.”

The research from St John Ambulance shows 52 per cent of Sheffield parents lack the skills necessary to save their child in the event of a life-threatening accident.

Despite this, 73 per cent claim to know basic first aid.

A new television advert will air tonight as part of the charity’s Save the Boy campaign to encourage more people to learn first aid skills.

It will set out a life-threatening scenario involving a young boy and direct viewers to a website to find out the correct way to save him.

Simon Dunn, regional director for St John Ambulance North East, said: “Unfortunately, our volunteers can’t be everywhere so we’ve developed an online experience to help more people be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.

“We don’t want anyone to be helpless in a first aid situation especially when learning life saving skills is so simple.”

Visit for more details on the campaign.